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Columnar fruit trees

Columnar fruit trees at LuberaColumnar fruit trees are the definitive answer to this old invitation: 'If you have room, plant a tree!'...

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Bundle 'Malini Apple Hedge'

Fruiting hedge

Instead of: £108.90 * £83.40 *

Columnar Apple Malini® Dulcessa®

A resistant, delicious, columnar apple from the next generation

From £17.90 *

Columnar Apple Malini® Equilibro®

Sweet and sour: This one is it - our new columnar apple

From £17.90 *

Columnar Apple Malini® Fresco®

Scab resistance, tasty columnar apple from the next generation

From £17.90 *

Columnar apple Malini® Gracilis®

the smallest, most compact columnar apple, ideal for containers

£19.40 *

Columnar Apple Malini® Greenlight®

Our first yellow-green columnar apple tree

From £19.40 *

Columnar Apple Malini® Pronto®

A columnar apple tree that is tolerant to fire blight

From £19.40 *

Columnar Apple Malini® Subito®

An early ripening and fast-bearing columnar apple

From £19.40 *

Columnar Apple Malini® Topmodel

The balanced columnar apple with a slim appearance

From £19.40 *

Columnar Cherry Fruttini® Garden Bing®

A columnar cherry for the smallest gardens

£25.40 *

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More useful information about Columnar fruit trees

... Thanks to the slender growth form, it is possible to plant a fruit tree even in the smallest of spaces, and you can even harvest the fruit of your own little trees on a small balcony. Among the varieties of columnar fruit trees, columnar apple trees have the narrowest growth and need at most one square metre of space. Our Pirini 'Myway'® columnar pear tree requires a similarly small space. However, stone fruit columnar trees need considerably more space.

In our assortment you can buy columnar fruit trees that have naturally narrow growth. The fruit tree itself therefore conveys this growth (and not the gardener through his/her pruning actions). Only in this way can you as a customer be sure that the columnar fruit tree will remain narrow and columnar-shaped even after a few years. The plants from Lubera offer you this certainty.

Columnar fruit trees are genetically predisposed in such a way that they grow mainly upright and ideally form few side shoots. This ideal growth type is particularly evident in the apple columnar trees. In stone fruit, there are usually (more than enough) side shoots, but these also grow strongly upwards. These give the stone fruit tree an elegant, columnar impression. With the columnar fruit varieties, almost no wish remains unfulfilled. In addition to apples and pears, you will also find cherries, plums and nectarines in our range.


Buy columnar fruit trees

Columnar fruit trees in the garden are exciting all year round. In the spring, they inspire with their white or pink flowers. Because they are compact and can grow in pots, columnar fruit trees can easily be placed in a protected environment. After flowering, they produce small fruit clusters that you can watch grow while sitting on your balcony or terrace. Autumn brings the harvest and with it wonderful treats.

How does the columnar growth come about?

Ultimately, the ideal-typical columnar growth results from a pronounced apical dominance (tip promotion), i.e. the growth hormones are so strongly concentrated in the vegetation peak of columnar fruit trees that only this peak grows and few side shoots are produced. In order to prevent the trees from growing to the sky, we combine this apical dominance with short internodes, i.e. with short distances between the buds. This slows down the growth of the columnar fruit trees and reduces their growth height.

The origin of columnar fruit trees

Probably the first consciously perceived columnar fruit tree was Wijcik, a mutation of McIntosh, which was discovered in Canada in the mid-1960s, more precisely in Kelowna in British Columbia. Perhaps it was no coincidence that the elegant bud mutation on a single branch was discovered by a girl, the daughter of fruit grower Anthony Wijcik. After all, it is something like feminine elegance that distinguishes these columnar apple trees. Not surprisingly, the first breeding successes based on the Wijcik apple were called Ballerina® trees. Since Don Fischer's first breeding experiments at the Summerland Research Station in British Columbia and since Ken Tobutt's Ballerina® columnar apples (who crossed with the Wijcik apple in East Malling), all the columnar apple varieties can be traced back directly and indirectly (and meanwhile over many generations) to Wijcik, which was discovered 50 years ago. This also applies to the scab-resistant Malini® columnar apples that are bred by Lubera®.

The success of the 'columnar apple tree' concept and the Ballerina® trees led to the introduction of other types of fruit than columnar trees, but these should generally be eaten with caution (see next section).

Is everything columnar or what? – This is nonsense with columnar fruit trees!

That's how it is with marketing successes that quite obviously hit the nerve of the customers' needs: suddenly everything that grows upwards is a column and it is unfortunately often also sold as a columnar fruit variety, which is columnar-shaped only in the young plant stage or only remains columnar if one intervenes strongly every year in terms of cultivation and pruning methods. The marketing hype – that gardeners have less and less space and want to harvest fruit in the smallest possible space – and everything that can be sold as columnar also grows well – has now taken on dimensions that can only be described as nonsense. In any case, it is utter nonsense to call a normal apple like Golden Delicious or Elstar or Braeburn a columnar apple, just because they are young unbranched shoots (= columns?); it seems just as borderline to us when we talk about columnar currants or columnar blackberries (our variety Lubera® Navaho® is sometimes called that) as well as columnar gooseberries: this raises expectations (regarding growth and simplicity as with columnar apples) that cannot be fulfilled. Such a plant form, a berry spindle, so to speak, can be achieved and grown, but only by pruning and taking on permanent training measures (see cultivation instructions for gooseberries). Once again: we would like to make it popular to define columnar fruit trees as only those plants that have been given a natural columnar growth, so to speak, by nature.

The real columnar growth of pome fruit and the pillar growth of stone fruit

So historically, the enthusiasm for columnar fruit trees has grown out of the experience with the Wijcik columnar apple tree and the first Ballerina® varieties bred by Ken Tobutt and then it has reached new fruit varieties. The columnar growth of apples and stone fruit is usually described in exactly the same way, although it is very different! And if columnar fruit trees are not to be a disappointment, this distinction must be made very clearly: genuine columnar growth, i.e. the combination of apical dominance, correspondingly little side shoot formation and compact growth, is only found in apple columnar trees and recently also in our Pirini Myway® columnar pear. Stone fruit columnar trees should actually be better described as pillar trees: although they also have a pronounced apical dominance and therefore also want to grow strongly upwards (and not so much in width), they usually form more than enough side shoots! These, in turn, have the urge to grow strongly upwards, which results in a narrow crown, a poplar-like silhouette, i.e. pillar growth.

Buy columnar fruit trees

Before you buy columnar fruit trees, it is particularly important to be aware of the difference between columnar growth in the strict sense (in the case of columnar apples) and pillar growth in the case of stone fruit. Later on, one can differentiate even further according to one's own needs: for example, there are very different growth heights for columnar apples (from 150-350 cm) and for stone fruit the columnar cherry 'Jachim' offers a somewhat slimmer alternative: it develops fewer side shoots and therefore has a narrower growth than the other pillar-shaped, columnar stone fruit varieties. It is certainly also helpful to know that the apple columnar fruit trees bred by Lubera, the so-called Malini, are scab-resistant, so that there is no need to fight the most dangerous fungal disease when growing apples in your own garden.

How do you plant columnar fruit trees?

Well, by just doing it! But there is one tip besides the always repeated commonplace (dig a hole, roughen the root ball, plant, fill in the hole and water the plant) that I would like to emphasise: always plant young fruit trees on a stable pole or stake! Stone fruit columnar trees need a stake (only) in the first few years to grow straight and undisturbed; and for columnar apples, we at Lubera only use low to medium-growing rootstocks (M26 and similar), which are not 100% stable. In the early stages of the columnar hype and in most nurseries up to the present day, strong growing rootstocks or even the even stronger seedling rootstocks were also used for the columnar apples. Their advantage is this: the young trees grow quickly, they can also be sold early and they look good...And yes, they are stable even without a pole...Their long-term disadvantage is the following: columnar apples on strong growing rootstocks literally grow into the sky; it takes much longer until they start to bear fruit and they also tend to be alternate bearing (meaning that they produce good yields only every second year) more than the weak growing trees. In this dichotomy (strong young plant and good stability vs. fertility and compact growth), we at Lubera clearly opt for the latter concept! We are convinced that especially gardeners with small gardens or with balconies/terraces want compact growing and fast bearing columnar apple trees. With stone fruit, it is unfortunately much less possible to limit the growth with the rootstocks; without intervention, almost all varieties will grow well over 3 m after 4-5 years.

How can columnar fruit trees be used?

It sounds like a commonplace again, of course, but columnar fruit can be used in many ways. Please take this quite literally: a plant that grows a little more (pome fruit) or a little less (stone fruit), like a column, has an almost infinite number of sides, so it can be combined with a lot of other things. In addition, you can also work with design contrasts such as high/low, broad/narrow. Would you ever have the courage to combine a columnar fruit tree or even better a triangular group of columnar trees (50-100 cm apart) in a mixed bed with other shrubs and perennials? Because of the striking growth it is also possible to combine columnar fruit trees with a hedge, making a fruit hedge or creating a unique design in your own garden with columnar fruit trees. Of course you may then prune a little less with such a hedge than with box, Thuja or beech trees. But in return you can also reap the fruits of your spared work!

Pruning columnar fruit trees

Here we go into the pruning of the columnar apples and also of the stone fruit columnar trees in more detail. However, we generally recommend that columnar pears and columnar apples are pruned narrowly, i.e. that any side shoots that develop are consistently cut back to 15 cm in order to retain the advantages of super-slim growth. With cherry, plum, apricot and peach/nectarine columnar fruit trees, on the other hand, we tend to allow the growth of side shoots (there are simply far too many of them). These side branches should be pruned back to stubs after a few years of yield, so that new and fresh side shoots grow upwards. This rapid fruit branch rejuvenation also prevents the old supporting branches from sinking into a horizontal position and thus the overall poplar-like pillar growth can be better preserved.

5 tips for growing columnar fruit trees in pots

1. Choose varieties that remain compact and narrow. Accordingly, Malini apple columnar trees are particularly suitable for growing in pots, as is the columnar pear 'Myway'. In the case of stone fruit, the variety 'Jachim' has the narrowest growth, while a columnar nectarine 'Alicecol' can be quite huge. In the next few years, we will add two new Malini columnar fruit tree varieties, which grow particularly compactly and only reach a height of about 150 cm after seven years. But if you want a really huge column for design reasons, then we can also provide a suitable variety: the blue columnar plum 'Skyscraper' literally grows into the sky (4 m are quickly reached); only then you have to choose a correspondingly large container (100 L or more).

2. Always choose a pot with a volume of 50 L or more. The bigger the pot, the better. Always remember that the tree is forever restricted to the pot, but that you want to enjoy a little more freedom and will not be at home all the time. There should be enough water in the pot for the columnar fruit tree to survive for 2-4 days. And one more thing: the larger the pot is, the better the stability. As is well known, this is a rather basic requirement for columnar fruit trees.

3. Create a good outflow of water at the bottom of the pot, i.e. enough holes, also fill in some coarse gravel at the bottom of the pot in order to additionally improve the drainage.

4. Place the columnar fruit tree in the pot in a shady place during the winter and protect the pot from direct sunlight. The roots will otherwise be confused by too much temperature difference in the winter and they will think too early that it is spring...

5. Thin out the young fruits when they are about the size of a thumb or walnut.  Since the shoot growth in the pot is somewhat reduced and the plant stress is also somewhat greater, more flowers and fruits are formed. Usually there are far too many! Here it is worth leaving only one fruit per bunch of flowers from mid-June to early July. The fruit will then develop all the better and above all the columnar fruit tree will have the strength to produce fruit every year rather than when it is chronically overloaded.

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